Post a Comment
Original Content at
(Note: You can view every article as one long page if you sign up as an Associate Member, or higher).

March 22, 2009

English Capitalists Starved Millions of Irish to Death For Profit - George Bernard Shaw

By Jay Janson

Ancestors of millions celebrating St. Pat's Day 2009 emigrated to excape stavation in an Ireland of plentiful food for export. That 19th century capitalist orchestrated slow mass-murder is worth remembering now, as mega-massive capitalist banking frauds for profit begin to have their inevitable loss-of-life effect in the neo-colonized 3rd World. And UK deMOCKracy is seen in its gerrymandered retention of northern Ireland.


Around the ethnic celebration of the Irish on this year's St Patrick's Day, just past, there is that wisp of remembrance by the millions of New Yorkers who trace their ancestors' desperate emigration from Ireland (under British rule at that time) during the 'Potato Famine', a euphemism for capitalist England's deliberate starving of a captive population for profit.

That 19th century English capitalist spectacular mass-murder is worthy remembering now, as mega-massive capitalist banking frauds for profit begin to have their inevitable loss-of-life effect in the  neo-colonized Third World.  

Capitalist 'investment' having control over resources needed to feed, cloth, shelter and care for majority humanity, stagnating in a stupid capitalist made swelter of confusion and ineptitude replacing normal plundering activity which at least allowed the plundered to eat and survive in order to produce that surplus for future plunder by First World elite.

American peace activists should extend their castigation of the U.S. for its present imperialist wars to include its elder partner in Third World conquest, the government of Britain. England preposterously prides itself on claiming that it is, and always has been, democratic, while at the same time happily capitalist and imperialist, thus intending that its own subjugated lower classes were complicit in English crimes against humanity world-wide, for presumably having had the freedom to have spoken out against these crimes.

History of British Empire deMOCKracy taking  of tons of Irish flesh.

The confiscation and colonization of the northern part of conquered Ireland began in 1609 under a plan and process called the Plantation of Ulster. Protestant English and Scottish planters were settled on land confiscated from Irish landowners.

The peasant population was intended to be relocated to live near garrisons and Protestant churches and the settlers were barred from selling their lands to any Irishman.  The principal landowners were to be Undertakers, wealthy men from England and Scotland who undertook to import tenants from their own estates.  There was also tried in other parts of the island.

About the time the Plantation of Ulster was planned, the Virginia Plantation at Jamestown in 1607 started. The settler population in northern Ireland grew rapidly, as just under half of the planters were women--a very high ratio compared to contemporary Spanish settlement in Latin America or early English settlement in Virginia.

In the summer of 1642, some 10,000 Scottish Lowlands Covenanter soldiers arrived to quell the Irish rebellion. The Scots committed many atrocities against the Catholic population. The Scottish army fought in Ireland until 1650 in the Irish Confederate Wars. Many stayed on in Ireland afterward with the permission of the Cromwellian authorities.

Irish antagonism towards England was aggravated by the economic situation of Ireland in the eighteenth century. Throughout the century English trade with Ireland was the most important branch of English overseas trade. The Protestant Anglo-Irish absentee landlords drew off some £800,000 in the early part of the century, rising to £1 million, in an economy that had a GDP of about £4 million. Completely deforested of timber for exports  Irish estates turned to the export of salt beef, pork, butter, and hard cheese. The Bishop of Cloyne wondered,

"how a foreigner could possibly conceive that half the inhabitants are dying of hunger in a country so abundant in foodstuffs?"


In the 1740s, these economic inequalities, when combined with an exceptionally cold winter and poor harvest, led directly to the first Great Irish Famine (1740-1741), which killed about 400,000 people.
Peasant secret societies became common in eighteenth century Ireland as the only means of tenant farmers to redress grievances against their landlords.

Great economic disparities existed between different areas of the country, with the north and east being relatively highly developed and involved in export of goods, where as much of the west was roadless, hardly developed and had a cashless subsistence economy.

The Irish Parliament of this era was almost exclusively Protestant in composition. Catholics had been barred from holding office in the early 17th century, barred from sitting in Parliament by mid century and finally disenfranchised in 1727.

In 1800 the Irish Parliament and the Parliament of Great Britain passed the Act of Union which, from 1 January 1801, abolished the Irish legislature, and merged the Kingdom of Ireland and the Kingdom of Great Britain to create the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland

In this period, Ireland was governed by authorities appointed in Britain. These were the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, who was appointed by the King and the Chief Secretary for Ireland appointed by the British Prime Minister. As the century went on, the British Parliament took over from the monarch as the executive as well as legislative branch of government. [What does that tell us about 'democratic paragon of virtue', the English parliament is touted to be?]

Catholics made up 80 percent of the population, the bulk of whom lived in conditions of poverty and insecurity. At the top of the 'social pyramid' were the English and Anglo-Irish families who owned most of the land, and who had more or less limitless power over their tenants. Some of their estates were vast: the Earl of Lucan, for example, owned over 60,000 acres (240 km2). Many of these landlords lived in England and were called 'absentee landlords'. They used agents to administer their property for them, with the revenue generated being sent to England. Absentee landlords living in England never set foot in Ireland. They took their rents from their impoverished tenants or paid them minimal wages to raise crops and livestock for export.

In 1843, the British Government set up a Royal Commission made up solely of landlords to inquire into the laws with regard to the occupation of land in Ireland. Irish lawyer, Daniel O'Connell wrote,

"It would be impossible to describe the privations which the Irish labourer and his family silently endure. In many districts their only food is the potato, their only beverage water. Their cabins are seldom a protection against the weather. A bed or a blanket is a rare luxury, and nearly in all their pig and a manure heap constitute their only property."

During the eighteenth century a new system for dealing with the landlord's property was introduced in the form of the middleman system, invariably described as 'land sharks' and 'bloodsuckers',

Landlords in Ireland used their powers remorselessly, and the people lived in dread of them, industry and enterprise were extinguished and a peasantry created which was one of the most destitute in Europe. Holdings were so small that only that no other crop but potatoes would suffice to feed a family.

They had to work for their landlords in return for the patch of land they needed in order to grow enough food for their own families. This was the system which forced Ireland and its peasantry into monoculture, as only the potato could be grown in sufficient quantity. The rights to a plot of land in Ireland could mean the difference between life and death in the early 19th century.

Potato dependency

The potato was introduced to Ireland as a garden crop of the gentry. By the late seventeenth century it had become widespread as a supplementary rather than a principal food, the main diet still revolved around butter, milk and grain products. In the first two decades of the eighteenth century, it became a base food of the poor, especially in winter.

The potato's spread was essential to the development of the cottier system, delivering an extremely cheap workforce, but at the cost of lower living standards.  The principal beneficiary of this system was the English consumer. [Does this not remind us of U.S. affluent consumption while half of a U.S. dominated world lives on around or below a dollar a day?]

The Celtic grazing lands of Ireland had been used to pasture cows for centuries. The British colonized the Irish, transforming much of their countryside into an extended grazing land to raise cattle for a hungry consumer market at home. The British taste for beef had a devastating impact on the impoverished and disenfranchised people of  Ireland. Pushed off the best pasture land and forced to farm smaller plots of marginal land, the Irish turned to the potato, a crop that could be grown abundantly in less favorable soil. Eventually, cows took over much of Ireland, leaving the native population virtually dependent on the potato for survival.

The period of the potato blight in Ireland from 1845-51 was full of political confrontation. The people watched as their potatoes melted in rottenness, while heavy-laden ships, spread sail for England.

John Mitchel, one of the leading political writers of Young Ireland, was convicted under the Treason Felony Act and sentenced to 14 years transportation to Bermuda, for warning of the famine about to happen.

A humanitarian remedy that the rest of Europe had adopted in times of famine, was to retain in the country the food raised by her people till the people were fed.

Ireland at this time was, according to the Act of Union of 1801, an integral part of the British imperial homeland, "the richest empire on the globe," and was "the most fertile portion of that empire," John Mitchel wrote:

"That an island which is said to be an integral part of the richest empire on the globe ... should in five years lose two and a half millions of its people (more than one fourth) by hunger, and fever the consequence of hunger, and flight beyond sea to escape from hunger."

(The industrialized capitalism was crueler than the Britain's pre-industrialized empire.)

Records show Irish lands exported food even during the worst years of starvation. When Ireland experienced an earlier crop failure in 1782-83, ports were closed to keep Irish-grown food in Ireland to feed the Irish. Local food prices promptly dropped. Merchants lobbied against the export ban, but government in the 1780s overrode their protests. An export ban did not happen in the 1840s.

While many English gorged themselves, large sums of money were donated by overseas charities. In Calcutta Irish soldiers employed by the East India Company raised £14,000. Pope Pius IX sent funds. Queen Victoria donated £2,000!

In 1845, there were 1,000,000 deaths. Ottoman Sultan Abdülmecid declared his intention to send 10,000 sterling to Irish farmers but Queen Victoria requested that the Sultan send only 1,000 sterling, because she had sent only 2,000 sterling. The Sultan sent the 1,000 sterling but also secretly sent 3 ships full of food. The English courts tried to block the ships, but the food arrived at Drogheda harbour and was left there by Ottoman sailors.

From American Indians

In 1847, midway through the Great Irish Famine (1845-1849), a group of American Indian Choctaws collected hundreds of dollars in an amazing gesture, just 16 years after their own privation during the Trail of Tears, and sent it to help starving Irish men, women and children. This donation was recently publicly commemorated by President Mary Robinson.

Incredibly, heartless landlords, whose land was crowded with poorer tenants, began great mass evictions in 1847.  In 1849 police began to keep count, and they recorded a total of almost 250,000 persons as officially evicted between 1849 and 1854.

After that earlier period of starvation, middle of the 18th century, some quarter of a million people left Ireland to settle in the New World alone, over a period of some fifty years. But during the worst 19th century starvation, emigration reached somewhere around 250,000 a year.

Families en masse did not emigrate, younger members of it did to be able to send remittances home in part to allow another member of the family to emigrate.

Of the 100,000 Irish that sailed to Canada in 1847, an estimated one out of five died from disease and malnutrition. Mortality rates of  30% were common aboard the coffin ships, the name given to any boat that has been over-insured and is therefore worth more to its owners sunk than afloat.

In 1847 William Smith O'Brien, the leader of the Young Ireland party, became one of the founding members of the Irish Confederation to campaign for a Repeal of the Act of Union, and called for the export of grain to be stopped and the ports closed. The following year he organized the resistance of landless farmers in County Tipperary against the landowners and their agents.

The following appears in Act IV of George Bernard Shaw's play Man and Superman:

    "The Famine? No, [with smouldering passion] the starvation. When a country is full of food, and exporting it, there can be no famine. My father was starved dead; and I was starved out to America in my mother's arms. English rule drove me and mine out of Ireland."

There is an Ireland Holocaust mural on Ballymurphy Road in Belfast, titled "An Gorta Mór, Britain's genocide by starvation, Ireland's holocaust 1845-1849."

Armed rebellions, such as the Easter Rising of 1916 and the Irish War of Independence of 1919, led to the 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty treaty that gave Ireland four fifth's of their country back. Disagreements over some provisions of the treaty disaffection for discrimination against Catholics in housing and employment led to a split in the nationalist movement and subsequently to the Irish Civil War. The Civil War ended in 1923 with the defeat of the anti-treaty forces.

The 1998 Belfast Agreement between the British and Irish governments provides that:

It is the birthright of all the people of Northern Ireland to identify themselves and be accepted as Irish or British, or both, as they may so choose, and accordingly [the two governments] confirm that their right to hold both British and Irish citizenship is accepted by both Governments and would not be affected by any future change in the status of Northern Ireland.

As a result of the Agreement, the Constitution of Ireland was amended so that people born in Northern Ireland are entitled to be Irish citizens on the same basis as people from any other part of the island of Ireland.

But the cultural division remains strong. Curbstones in some areas are painted red-white-blue in settler areas and green-white-orange (or gold) in native Irish neighborhoods.

[Apart from sundry other sources, a good amount of the above history was gleaned, some phrases verbatim, from the fine articles found under the subject heading 'Republic of Ireland' on Google]

In reviewing this history of land seizure and the exploitation of an indigenous population brought to mind Third World countries on all continents that have had a similar experience of empire protected overseas settler incursions.

The calamities that British capitalism, both in its nascent mercantilist form right through industrial and finance capitalism, brought to majority humanity at the point of the gun, the latter at the point of machine guns, is today, largely replaced by Anglo-American dominated powerful and merciless currency controlling international regulatory institutions.

The present hope of apprehensive misanthropic bankers, industrialists, the military and their media mouthpiece, is that this domination of the vulnerable poor billions of Earthlings can continue to produce enough revenue to eventually bail out the frantically promoted over-consumption, the permissive thievery of the wealthy and the unwise use of their power to govern the globe.

So to sum up, as with present day Amer-Anglo imperialism and the French, Spanish, Dutch and Portuguese empires that preceded it, millions of exploited human beings were destined to die early and violent deaths in their home country while slaving and serving for the investors of foreign capital.

One day Ireland will surely be whole again and a minority of the descendants of invading colonists will reside peacefully as a respected Protestant minority within a largely Catholic native Irish population - instead of those Protestants, backed by overwhelming British firepower, continuing to subjugate a minority of Catholic native Irish in a gerrymandered northern portion of the island controlled by the oppressor British and their obedient minions in overseas colonizing.

But how to swallow all that starvation.
Its just, well, has anyone ever had the devastating experience of seeing young little sallow skinned lifeless faces with expressionless eyes, immobile in sunken eye sockets, staring into the empty space of their unavoidable fate, motionless, without an iota of energy left over after each taxing breath to even try to understand, to ask, 'Why Mommy? Why Daddy?'

We call out to the souls of those children, wherever, if anywhere, they might be now, to explain to each one of them, that it was just the phenomenon of free capital requiring accumulation  of profit.

'It wasn't personal. It was just business.'

Submitters Website: http://prosecuteuscrimesagainsthumanitynow.blogspot.com

Submitters Bio:

Jay Janson is an archival research peoples historian activist, musician and writer; has lived and worked on all continents; articles on media published in China, Italy, UK, India and the US; now resides in NYC; First effort was a series of articles on deadly cultural pollution endangering seven areas of life emanating from Western corporate owned commercial media published in Hong Kong's Window Magazine 1993; Howard Zinn lent his name to various projects of his; Global Research; Information Clearing House; Counter Currents, Kerala, India; Minority Perspective, UK; Dissident Voice, Uruknet; Voice of Detroit; Ethiopian Review; Palestine Chronicle; India Times; Mathaba; Ta Kung Bao; China Daily; South China Morning Post; Come Home America; OpEdNews; HistoryNews Network; Vermont Citizen News have published his articles; Weekly column, South China Morning Post, 1986-87; reviews for Ta Kung Bao; article China Daily, 1989. Is coordinator of the King Condemned US Wars International Awareness Campaign: (King Condemned US Wars) and website historian of Prosecute US Crimes Against Humanity Now Campaign. featuring a country by country history of US crimes and laws pertaining. Studied history at CCNY, Columbia U., U. Puerto Rico, Dolmetscher Institut Munchen, Germany. Musician grassroots activist dedicated firstly to ending colonial power "genocide in maintenance of unjust predatory investments," by Majority Mankind prosecution of Colonial Powers Crimes Against Humanity and Peace and mega immense compensation for wrongful death, maiming and destruction and magna theft of natural resources and forced labor and enslavement. Will be made possible when Martin Luther King Jr. demand that America, Americans, he included himself, [not government which he dismissed a greatest purveyor of violence in the world, not cause] because of being capable making atrocity wars and covert genocide unacceptable and inoperable through non-participation, non-support, not-acquiescence and conscientious objection, and that Americans would suffer at home as a result of killing the poor in countries already violated by colonial occupation. Dissident Voice supports the call to Prosecute US Crimes against Humanity Now Campaign with link bottom of each issue of its newsletter.